Winter's coming, and with it, plunging temperatures and shorter days that make you want to curl up and relax, warm and cosy by the fire. As the coldness looms and you prepare to pump the heat, it's important to protect your home from potential damage and address heat and energy leaks. These seven simple tasks will help you stay warm, safe and energy-conscious this winter.

1 Prepare your hearth for fire

Before getting chestnuts ready for the roasting, get your fireplace set for the fire. Grab a flashlight and look inside for build-up, bird's nests or obvious cracks. From the outside, check for broken bricks and crumbling mortar. Ensure that your damper opens and closes and seals tightly. Clean out the ashes and remember that in addition  to these steps, you should have your chimney professionally cleaned every other year (more often if you burn a lot of fires). Stock up on wood and kindling, and you're ready for a comfy, cosy season by the fire.  


2 Seal the windows
Seal drafty windows to keep heat in and energy bills low with one (or both) of these two simple tasks. First, caulk the cracks. Sold in temporary or permanent form, caulking is inexpensive and easy to apply. Second, cover your windows in a thin plastic film (available at any hardware store) and tape it down with waterproof double-sided tape, heating the edges with a hair dryer and pressing the protective layer into place. When it gets warmer outside, simply peel the film off, open the window, and let the sun shine in


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Growing food doesn’t necessarily require a big backyard. Even if you live in a high-rise apartment, homegrown vegetables and herbs can be yours. In many cases, a patio or deck can even offer big advantages. You can grow tomatoes, potatoes and even cucumbers in large containers on a sunny patio, and nothing beats the convenience of stepping outside to snip a few herbs for dinner. Although container-grown crops may sometimes have lower yields than those grown in raised beds, they can still be quite productive. In fact, there is almost nothing you can’t grow on a patio or deck, from apples to zucchini. 

Why Grow Edibles on Your Patio or Deck

  • More light. Do you live in a cloudy region like the Pacific Northwest, where light is at a premium? Growing in an elevated space, where sun is easier to come by than at ground level, can be a great approach.
  • Fewer pests. Pests like slugs, snails and even rats and squirrels are less likely to find your garden if it’s on a deck, especially if you’re in a high-rise.
  • Fewer weeds. By growing in a potting medium that’s free of weed seeds, you’ll likely experience fewer weeds than backyard gardeners. Just don’t be surprised if a few weeds make it to your garden on the wind.

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Life is a journey. Couples buy the big house when they start their families. But when their kids fly the coop, they're stuck with a too-big house that no longer meets their needs or fits their lifestyle. The thought of starting over can be daunting.

Over the years after helping scores of empty-nesters downsize, we've found that folks sometimes lose their way during this phase. Here are our top tips to help keep everyone on track:

No one loves your stuff as much as you do.

The first three things we tell empty-nesters to do to get their home ready for market is to de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. It's amazing how many things one can accumulate over a lifetime. As we age, we also tend to hold onto things as they connect us with our past. We know firsthand. We lost our dad almost 20 years ago, and to this day, our mom still refuses to throw out any of his belongings. Unfortunately, things that we think are important to our children may not be, and things that we think are disposable may have tremendous intrinsic value to our loved ones.

Here's how you can fight the urge not to purge:

Hire a professional

If you have found excuses for the last 25 years not to purge, it's unlikely that you can do this alone. Many of our clients work with professional organizers and/or estate sales companies to help them get through this process. A professional organizer can help you sort through decades of paperwork and belongings in an organized and systematic way. A professional estate sales company can help you sort through which items have value and which do not, and then sell them for you.

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­Sometimes roofs develop leaks years before the entire roof needs replacing. Usually these leaks are caused by localized damage, such as cracked or missing shingles or shakes, or on a fla­t roof, a blistered or cracked area. The hardest part to repairing this kind of damage is locating it.

In this article, you'll learn helpful tips for finding and fixing leaks on all kinds of roofs, as well as some maintenance suggestions for gutters and vent pipes. Since working on a roof can be a dangerous proposition, be sure to take note of the precautionary tips -- they just might save you from a serious injury.

Let's get started by taking a look at how to repair leaks on shingle roofs.

Shingle Roofs

Shingle roofs are usually easy to fix. At the marked leak point, look for damaged, curled, or missing shingles. At every place where two surfaces meet and around every chimney or vent, look for breaks in the flashing or caulking or for gaps in the lines of roof cement.

­If you can't see any damage to the shingles or flashing in the leak area, you'll have to call a professional roofer; the problem may be inadequate flashing or simply deterioration of the shingles.

If you find evidence of shingle problems, repairs are fairly simple. Curled-back shingles can be reattached with asphalt roof cement or compound in tubes for use with a caulking gun. In warm weather, you can easily straighten out the curled shingle. In cold weather, shingles become very brittle and must be softened before they can be flattened out.


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When people consider a home renovation, one of the things they consider is the value the renovation will add to their home.

So, after years of watching interior design shows and more recently, photos and videos on Pinterest, I had wild ideas of how I was going to transform my home.

I did online research and called contractors and it didn’t take long to realize that the changes I had in mind wouldn’t necessarily add the value I had hoped. If I customize my home too much, it wouldn’t appeal to as many buyers when I wanted to sell.

The Appraisal Institute of Canada says renovations to the bathroom and kitchen offer the best value, with a recovery rate of 75 to 100 per cent of the amount spent.

The recovery rate is the likely increase a renovation will have to a home’s resale value. So, a $5,000 renovation that increases a home’s value by $3,500 has a recovery rate of 70 per cent.

The non-profit personal finance web site offers five types of renovations that add value to a home:

  • Investments in efficient use of energy (60 per cent recovery rate)
  • New or improved kitchens and bathrooms (75-100 per cent recovery rate)
  • Low-cost improvements – painting, wallpaper, etc. (50-100 per cent recovery rate)
  • New windows or doors (50-100 per cent recovery rate)
  • Basement renovation (50-75 per cent recovery rate)

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The buyer has made an offer, the seller has accepted, and it’s time for next steps. And one of those is, of course, the appraisal. Even though this is an expense that the buyer pays, the seller is basically in control of the outcome. So as a Realtor, it’s your responsibility to assist your seller in having the best possible result when the appraiser comes to call.

Here’s the best advice you can give: Instead of waiting until the sale is in process, start getting ready for the appraisal the minute the home is listed. This will accomplish two things. Not only will you be ready when the appraiser shows up, you have an opportunity to get the home into the best possible condition early, thus attracting more buyers and higher offers. You can’t lose. Here are six important steps you can take, before and during the appraisal process.

  • Make cosmetic improvements
  • Compile comparable sales
  • List upgrades
  • Put out the welcome mat
  • Do the disappearing act

1. Make cosmetic improvements. This is something every homeowner should do when getting ready to list the home. Not only will this attract prospective buyers, it will let the appraiser know that there is pride of ownership in the property and that it’s been well maintained. Think about things like caulking around tubs and sinks, regrouting tile or cleaning existing grout. Power wash the home exterior. Touch up paint, both interior and exterior, that’s showing wear, or repaint entire rooms if colors are outdated. If your teenager has plastered walls with hip-hop posters or sprinkled the ceiling with stars, neutralize these items before other Realtors, buyers, or appraisers show up.


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(The comments contained on this page are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.)

Finding the perfect home doesn't happen in one day. It takes careful planning and lots of work. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to simplify the process.  

1. Things to Consider Before Starting Your Search

What Features Do You Need?

Do you need an extra bathroom, a garage, a fenced backyard, or lower utility bills? Do you want a fireplace, a short drive to work, or maybe minimal yard work? Once your list is complete, decide what’s most important to you.

What’s the Ideal Location?

Where you live obviously affects your lifestyle; it’s also one of the most significant influences on the value of your home. Your choice of location may be somewhat limited by the price you can afford. Even so, make sure to consider such things as distance to work, schools, shopping and entertainment.

What Kind of Home?

What type of property do you want? A single-family detached home is attractive to many people because it typically provides more living space and land. On the other hand, a condominium may be a more appropriate choice for you, with an emphasis on maintenance-free living. Determine what type of home best suits your desired lifestyle and budget.

What’s Your Budget?

How much do you want to spend? Just as importantly, how much do you have to spend? Note there are numerous additional expenses (detailed below) that you’ll pay to complete the purchase of a home.

2. Choosing a REALTOR®

A REALTOR® can help you answer all of these questions and help you navigate through what can be a complicated business transaction. Start by finding REALTORS® in your city by using CREA’s handy search tool. Then, talk to some of them and compare their services. It’s important that you’re comfortable and confident with the agent you choose.


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Make Safety the First Item on Your List this Holiday Season

The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) offers the following tips to help keep you and your family safe from electrical hazards when buying and installing holiday lighting and decorations.

Light up safely over the holidays:

  • Choose the right light for the job: light strings and other decorations are rated for indoor or outdoor use. Read the package instructions, and never exceed the recommended wattage.
  • Replace damaged electrical products (cords, plugs, ornaments).
  • Avoid plugging too many lights and decorations into an outlet. Overloaded circuits can overheat and start a fire. 
  • Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) outlets when plugging in outdoors
  • Buy holiday decorations that have the mark of an accredited certification agency on the package. 
  • Once the package is opened, remember to check for the appropriate approval sticker appearing on the cord for products incorporating light strings. 

Extension Cords/Plugs:

  • Avoid overloading circuits with plugs and extension cords—this can create overheating and result in a fire. Fuses that frequently blow and circuits that trip can indicate too many items are conected to the circuit.
  • Never remove the third prong on plugs—this "grounding pin" prevents shock in the event of electrical equipment failure.
  • Plug outdoor electrical decorations into Ground Fault (GFCI)-protected outlets.
  • Don't run extension cords under carpets, through doorways, or in places where they can be damaged by furniture 
  • Keep outdoor connections above-ground and out of puddles; don't run them across driveways and/or walkways.

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The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) is a federal program that makes getting a first home easier. Under the HBP, anyone can withdraw money from their RRSP to help purchase or build a qualifying first home, either for themselves or a disabled relative.

Each year, the home buyer must pay back to their RRSP a portion of the withdrawn amount. Generally, the full amount must be repaid within 15 years. 

The Benefits of the HBP

The HBP makes home ownership more affordable. Money withdrawn through the HBP essentially serves as a repayable, zero-interest self-loan. This can reduce or eliminate the need for costly mortgage insurance and reduce the amount of interest paid to lenders. 

The Issue

The HBP's withdrawal limit is set at $25,000. Unfortunately, inflation erodes the plan's buying power, thus reducing the ability of Canadians to afford their first home. This wouldn't be an issue, however, if the HBP were indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). 

CREA's Proposal

CREA would like the federal government to index the HBP to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in $2,500 increments. This will ensure that first-time homebuyers never lose their purchasing power. There’s no cost to the government until 2016, at which point the cost would be minimal.


The Benefits of Our Proposal

1. Economic Spinoffs

According to Altus Group, each MLS® home sale or purchase generates an average of $51,275 in ancillary spending. This includes renovations, furniture and appliances, professional services, moving costs, and tax revenue to government. In 2012, homes purchased using the HBP resulted in over $2.5 billion in spin-off spending and over 20,200 jobs.


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Radiant heating systems supply heat directly to the floor or to panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. The systems depend largely on radiant heat transfer -- the delivery of heat directly from the hot surface to the people and objects in the room via infrared radiation. Radiant heating is the effect you feel when you can feel the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room. When radiant heating is located in the floor, it is often called radiant floor heating or simply floor heating.

Radiant heating has a number of advantages. It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses. People with allergies often prefer radiant heat because it doesn’t distribute allergens like forced air systems can. Hydronic (liquid-based) systems use little electricity, a benefit for homes off the power grid or in areas with high electricity prices. Hydronic systems can use a wide variety of energy sources to heat the liquid, including standard gas- or oil-fired boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or a combination of these sources. For more on the different types of energy sources and heat distribution systems for home heating, explore our Energy Saver 101 infographic on home heating.

Despite its name, radiant floor heating depends heavily on convection, the natural circulation of heat within a room as air warmed by the floor rises. Radiant floor heating systems are significantly different from the radiant panels used in walls and ceilings. For this reason, the following sections discuss radiant floor heat and radiant panels separately.


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There’s always a fear that a property you’ve listed for sale is going to be viewed at a lower value because of surrounding properties and their condition, or because of bad neighbours.

When listing a house for sale, it is important to assess the neighbourhood.  Note any potential negatives such as nearby entertainment venues, bars, railway lines and noisy neighbours along the block. Take a look at how the other homeowners keep their yards – is it in line with the look you would like to see in the property you are selling?

“Generally we try and take the path of least resistance” with sellers’ neighbours, says Adam Bendig of Re/Max Connex Realty in Rockwood, Ont. “It’s nice to knock on the door and say hi, or if there is bad blood (with the seller), try to remedy it prior to selling the house. The past issues may be minor but people hold grudges longer than they need to.”


Don’t forget to leave business cards and make sure that everyone you meet has a way to get in contact with you if they have any problems.  Talk with the seller and make a list of any difficulties they ever had with neighbours, paying attention to what and how things are said. You want to clearly understand what the issues are and how serious or minor they may be. Assume nothing and always clarify.


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In a special five part series, investor Simmi Wadhera outlines the key lessons she has learned from dealing with property managers and advises fellow landlords on what they should consider before hiring one.
In the first part, Simmi outlined what questions to ask when interviewing potential property managers. Here, she explains what terms and conditions should be set out.

Set contract terms and conditions.

Be cautious and plan ahead. Set specific terms and conditions in your property management contract to ensure you know everything you’re getting yourself into. Think about the following:
1.    Limit discretionary spending in your property management contract. Have you ever been surprised at the end of the month when you receive a summary of unexpected expenses from your property manager? To safeguard against this and maximize cash-flow, consider limiting the amount of discretionary spending the property manager is allowed to spend without your approval. In my opinion, discretionary spending by the property manager should be limited to $100 per month maximum for each property that they manage.

2.    Select the appropriate lease term - yearly lease versus multiyear lease. There are pros and cons to signing a one year or multi-year lease with the right lease term, dependent on your goals for the investment property. Yearly leases are advantageous in providing you with more flexibility if you have to replace a bad tenant or decide to sell the property. On the other hand, multi-year leases provide you with the peace of mind of having guaranteed rental income for a longer period of time. This will avoid yearly lease up fees incurred in finding new tenants. My one word of caution with a multi-year lease would be to ensure you have a clause in the contract that allows you to raise the rent annually within allowable guidelines.

3.    Ensure that the monthly rental cheques come directly to you instead of the property manager. This provides you with visibility of the total rental amount the tenant is paying.  This not only decreases the chance of your property manager committing fraud but also ensures you receive payment on time.


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From waterfront walks to forested paths, Port Moody offers a wealth of green space.



Some parks, such as Old Orchard Park are small, beachside gems while others are geared to action-oriented pursuits: SK8 Park caters to skateboarders and BMX bikers with lots of ramps, rails, stairs and tabletop features while Inlet and Town Centre parks include fields and courts for sports such as soccer and tennis.

Belcarra Regional Park

Jutting into Indian Arm where it meets the Burrard Inlet, and covering some 1,100ha/2,718ac, this forested mountain park has been a summer getaway destination since the 1920s when boats used to bring day trippers from Vancouver's Coal Harbour to picnic, swim, hike for an hour or a full day, and fish.

Activities at Belcarra Park

Today this family park is as popular as ever with 22km/13.7mi of walking trails and 9.5km/6mi of cycling paths. White Pine Beach at Sasamat Lake is a hot spot for swimmers as much for its safe, warm waters and for its long stretches of sand. There's a wharf for crabbing, fishing or scuba diving.

The Belcarra picnic area, White Pine Beach and park washrooms are all wheelchair accessible.


Buntzen Lake Reservoir Recreation Area

Located along Sunnyside Road just north-east of Belcarra in neighbouring Anmore, Buntzen Lake sits among the forested slopes of the Coast Mountains. Created from a dam reservoir which provided Vancouver's first hydroelectric power, this picturesque 4.8km/3mi long reservoir is also a popular recreation area.

Activities at Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake offers a small boat and canoe launch (rentals are available), hiking, mountain biking, equestrian and nature trails. The summer crowds can be a bit daunting; be sure to arrive before 10am to secure a parking spot or the walk can be a long one, especially for youngsters.

Bert Flinn Park

Covering 126ha/311ac, this mostly undeveloped park comprises original ecosystems of forest uplands and wetlands that are rich with wildlife such as the Northwestern salamander and red-legged frogs. These north shore wetlands are also significant for the diversity of plant species – a total of 99 species have been inventoried so far and include the Arctic starflower, Swamp laurel, Labrador tea and Round-leaved sundew plants.


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Located along the shores of Burrard Inlet, Rocky Point Park in Port Moody is one of the most scenic parks in the lower mainland. The Shoreline Trail is an easy walking route that wraps around the eastern most section of Burrard Inlet, starting from the pier at Rocky Point Park and ending at Old Orchard Park.


From the parking lot, walk out onto the pier next to the boat launch and enjoy the surrounding view. On a sunny weekend day, the water can be quite busy with motorboats, kayakers, and dragon-boaters. After enjoying the view walk back to the start of the pier and go left along the trail that follows the shoreline and passes through the grassy park area to the right. After walking over the second bridge, the gravel trail begins as you begin to leave the sound of kids playing at the water park. 


Walk onto the gravel trail on the left side as this trail will stay close to the shore and is not meant for cyclists. The trail passes through a nice forested area, offering glimpses of the inlet to the left, before descending down a set of long wooden steps and opening to a clearing. This is where the narrow wooden boardwalks are located as you make your way across while taking in the view towards the inlet.


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Vancouver is officially Canada’s top travel destination, according to readers of the prestigious travel magazine Travel + Leisure.

Travel + Leisure’s annual World’s Best Awards survey asks readers to evaluate cities on five characteristics: sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people and value.

Vancouver’s score this year was 86.71, making it the top city in Canada and sixth best in North America (U.S. and Canada). And it seems that visitors are growing more enamored with the city every year as in the 2013 survey, Vancouver placed second in Canada and ninth in North America.

Vancouver also swept the World’s Best Hotel category with five of the top 10 Canadian hotels located here. Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver captured the title of Canada’s premier hotel, followed by Rosewood Hotel Georgia (2), Wedgewood Hotel and Spa (6), The Fairmont Waterfront (7) and Fairmont Pacific Rim (9).


One of North America’s leading luxury travel publications, Travel + Leisure has a circulation of more than 900,000 readers worldwide as well as related titles in Mexico, China and other global locales.


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#1 Minor Bathroom Remodel
Average return at resale: 102 percent


  • It costs about $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures. You’ll get back an average of $10,700 at resale, a recoup rate of 102 percent.
  • If you can pipe a child’s name on a birthday cake, you can re-caulk a tub. Use a softener like CAULK-BE-GONE® to get rid of the old caulk. Fill the tub with water after you’re done to stretch caulk while it dries.
  • If your old tub is too large to fit out the door, re-glaze it for a like-new finish. Cost: $300 to $400.
  • Remove dated wall coverings and apply a fresh coat of paint. For damaged walls, spray on texture provides quick coverage.
  • Old shower doors can ruin any bathroom. Removing or replacing them will add the illusion of space.

#2 Landscaping
Average return at resale: 100 percent


  • The average homeowner spends about $3,502 for landscaping and another $1,465 on a designer, according to the American Nursery and Landscape Association.
  • Not sure where to start? Local garden centers often offer free design services, or ask the neighbors what works for them.
  • Sod costs about 30 to 35 cents a square foot, so a 5,000 sq. ft. yard would cost about $1,500 to sod. Budget for a delivery fee if you buy less than 1,000 sq. ft.
  • A splash of color at the front of the house is an eye-catching plus. For maximum impact, choose one color and vary the height of plants.
  • If your doorway is overwhelmed by greenery, then get out the shears. Replace overgrown shrubbery with flowering foundation plants mixing heights and colors for dramatic effect.
  • A charming focal point like a walkway and fountain adds major value to your property. Roll a sealant on flagstones for a permanent wet look that enhances the color. 

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What was once an unused portion of Port Coquitlam’s Central Park has been transformed into the city’s newest community garden.

And the Centennial Community Garden Society wants to show off its handy work by inviting the neighbourhood to grand opening celebrations next week.

“The residents in the area have been amazed,” said Rosemarie Nakamura, the society’s secretary treasurer. “It has just changed the whole area.”

Nakamura and Natalia Zhandarmova, a fellow gardening enthusiast, started the project last summer when they were informed of the lengthy waiting list for a garden plot at Elks Park’s community garden. The pair began researching the possibility of starting a new community garden and found an unused piece of land that was owned by the city.

Armed with $22,500 in grants and a handful of volunteers, they got to work last August, cleaning up the area and building plots. After nine months, work at the park is finally wrapping up.

“It is a record time for such projects,” Zhandarmova said. “It usually takes longer.”

The end result is a 60-plot garden with raised beds, a greenhouse, water barrels, composting area and a dog enclosure. There is also a kids’ area where the young ones can keep busy while parents do their gardening, and a double plot that will be used to produce fruits and vegetables for the Share food bank.

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Asbestos is a material that was used widely in construction.If the asbestos fibres are enclosed or tightly bound in a compound, there is no significant health risk. Asbestos poses health risks only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe.People working in construction, maintenance or the renovation of older buildings should be particularly careful when handling asbestos. Never sand or fine-scrape surfaces containing asbestos fibres.During renovations and repairs to older buildings, construction workers, trades-people and other building maintenance workers may be exposed to high concentrations of fibres.It is imperative that trades-people are trained in the proper handling of asbestos-containing materials. 

Because it is a valuable reinforcing, insulating and fireproofing material, asbestos was used widely in construction materials such as insulation board, asbestos cement, drywall fillers, loose-fill vermiculite insulation, floor tiles and some ceiling tiles. These products are dense and do not release significant amounts of fibres under normal use.However, fibres may be released if these products are sanded or scraped. 

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Many residents and businesses in the Lower Mainland are located in a floodplain - close to or beside local rivers, creeks, or coastlines.

Reduce the chances of flood damage by:

1  Reading material about flood reduction supplied by the local
2  Walking around the home after heavy rainfall to see where water
       is pooling. If water flows toward the home, the owner should get
       professional advice about directing water away from the home.
3  Cleaning gutters and downspouts.
4  Making sure the home’s drain tiles work. The basement will
       flood if tiles are old or plugged and need replacing.
5  Flood proofing the basement or ground floor, which involves
       sealing the foundation.
6  Installing backflow valves on basement floor drains, washing machine drains, toilets and sink drains.

7  Locating the storm sewer on the road. It will look like a large grate and is designed to carry storm related water runoff. If
        it’s plugged with leaves, the owner should phone the local municipal public works department and they will clean it.
8  Buying a sump pump and testing it so it’s ready to be used if needed during heavy rain storms.
9  Contacting the municipality to find out where sand and bags are available should a flood occur.

Here is a useful Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding.

Flood insurance

In Canada, flood insurance isn’t available to home owners. Other water damage may be covered by homeowner policies, including sewer backup and burst pipes, but not for overland flooding.


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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.